Australasian Religious Press Association (ARPA)

ARPA, the Christian Communications Network

Who We Are


ARPA exists to help Christian publications and their staff to better understand and fulfil the work that Christ wills to be done through the Christian press in Australia and New Zealand. 

Our purpose

ARPA seeks to fulfil three main objectives:

·        to enhance the effectiveness and quality of Christian publications and the professionalism and faith of their staff;

·        to maintain a network of fellowship and communication among those working for or interested in the Christian press; and

·        to pursue areas of common concern or mutual benefit to ARPA members.

Our membership

ARPA embraces Christian publications and related agencies in Australia and New Zealand. They range from small magazines to large-circulation newspapers, from denominational monthlies to independent weeklies, with publishers ranging from dioceses and synods to mission bodies.

Membership is open to publications and religious communications agencies which adhere to the historic Trinitarian faith of the Christian church. Individuals interested in ARPA but not employed by publications may join as associate members.

Our history
ARPA's origins go back to an antecedent group, the Religious Press Association, formed in 1960.

Its sole purpose was to combat proposed high increases in postage rates for registered publications. The RPA was a small, Melbourne-based group which included the Jewish press. In 1970, with a handful of key players having moved on or about to do so, the RPA held its last meeting.

From its ashes emerged a broader vision of a Christian press association which would be as much a professional industry body as a lobby group.

Enthusiasts like Gerald Davis (who had just launched Church Scene) and Nick Kerr (then president of the already active Australian Catholic Press Association) encouraged by colleagues like Bruce Upton (Bible Society) and ACPA's Fr Pat Cunningham, canvassed this idea widely.

It was decided to hold a conference immediately after the CPA convention in Melbourne to try to mount a transdenominational press association. That gathering, called the La Verna Conference after its location, founded the Australian Religious Press Association, with Bruce Upton as founding president. ARPA held its inaugural convention in Canberra in May 1974.

In 1990, in recognition of the growing mutual interest and involvement across the Tasman, with the conference held that year in Auckland, ARPA formally established a New Zealand chapter and became the Australasian Religious Press Association. 

ARPA now has a membership of 82 publications and 22 individuals as well as 64 staff members of the publications – 168 members in total. The Association has a Code of Ethics and also adopts the code of universal media freedoms.

Its aims are to develop members’ skills, knowledge and professionalism; to offer opportunities for networking, fellowship and information-sharing among members; and to recognise excellence through the presentation of annual awards.  

The Australasian Religious Press Association awards celebrate excellence in writing; design and creativity; and publishing. The awards are given for work published during the preceding calendar year.

If you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact Liz Harris on 


Our major activities

Chapters are organised in each state and New Zealand, and hold their own meetings.

The annual conference provides a weekend (Friday lunch to Sunday) of challenge, stimulation, training, discussion, fellowship, worship and fun. The annual general meeting is held at this time. Conferences rotate among the states and New Zealand. Conference 2011 was held in Adelaide, 2012 in Wellington, 2013 in Melbourne, 2014 in Canberra, and in 2015 it will be held in Brisbane.

Conference workshops are always enthusiastically attended. Areas covered might include interview techniques, writing reviews, page design and layout, designing ads, website design, writing editorials, and humorous writing.

ARPA awards are presented each year for excellence in religious journalism and publishing in 25 categories, such as Best News Story, Best Layout, Best Photograph, Best Ecumenical Story, Best Social Justice Story, to name a few. These are judged by leading professional journalists and awarded at a dinner at the annual conference.

The Presidential award, the Gutenberg, is presented to a person or publication for overall excellence in religious communication.